The good of the many

Does the good of the many outweigh the good of the one?


    This is in response to the article, "Where does morality come from, if not God?"

    I'm usually dubious of simplistic phrases like this, as there's always problems with them. They don't handle nuance very well... so I could only answer "sometimes, kinda".

    It hinges on what's meant by "outweigh". If you asked "Do 100 people with $1 each have more money than 10 people with $1 each", I'd say, "Well, yeah. That's how numbers work".  Similarly, if you asked, "is good for 100 people more than good for 10 people" - "of course". 

    I doubt that's what's being asked. Instead, I suspect what's meant is "justify" - as in, the good of the few is sacrificed for the good of the many, and whether that is fine.

    It depends. 

    If we're talking about the good of a billion Nazis being sacrificed, for the good of five not-Nazis, I'd say that would be justified. If we're talking about the majority being slave owners, who benefit from the sacrifice of the minority - slaves, then obviously that's not justified. If we're talking about two groups of people, who could otherwise find an amicable solution where they can retain the good for both of them, then no, it's not justified. I can, for instance, hire a plumber to plumb my house - benefiting me and my entire family - without enslaving the plumber, causing him/her harm.

    It depends on the circumstances.

    Secular morality trends towards maximizing benefit and minimizing harm... but that isn't accomplished by doing a simple head count every time there's two or more groups, whose interests conflict... and you then decide the majority is who wins that argument. Sometimes it takes time and work to figure out what a better solution would be, because it's not readily obvious. 

    There is a career that handles this very topic - "diplomat"

    No offense to the person who asked this question - but it does reek of a religious thought process, where you're handed a set of rules, and you just follow them... as though navigating life is some kind of recipe. I wouldn't follow "the good of the many outweigh the good of the one" as a rule, and more than I'd follow "when someone calls you, always answer yes". Usually, I'd listen to the details of what the person is saying before making any decisions or responses. 

    As a philosophical snippet, "the good of the many outweighs the good of the one" isn't useful.

    So in conclusion... sometimes. Kinda. It depends.